Pick Kansas To Keep Rolling Against Syracuse

Rainman M.

Saturday, December 2, 2017 2:27 PM UTC

Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 2:27 PM UTC

No. 2 Kansas (6-0) plays Syracuse (6-0) today at 5:30 PM ET in the final of the Hoophall Invitational in Miami. The Jayhawks are double-digit favorites.

Syracuse Orange vs Kansas Jayhawks

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Free NCAAB Pick: Kansas -10
Best Line Offered: at BookmakerKansas

Massive talent departed from Kansas: Frank Mason's 20.9 points per game in 36.1 minutes per game and Josh Jackson's 16.3 points per game. Jackson was also an avid rebounder and defender.

Devonte Graham takes over Mason’s role as the team’s senior leader. The point guard is displaying his playmaking abilities, ranking 33rd in assist rate. He ranks 116th in steals and can use his defense to create baskets in transition. Graham is equally comfortable from behind the arc and with mid-range jumpers. He is working on being more aggressive to the basket because his free throw % hovers around 90.

Shooting guard Malik Newman and small forward Lagerald Vick are making half of their three-point attempts. Newman’s good ball-handling skills are evidenced by his low turnover rate. He could be better at making assists. Vick is also shooting 59% from two and rarely commits turnovers.

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and the 7-footer Udoka Azubuike bring a strong interior game. Mykhailiuk utilizes his 6’8 height to steal the ball. He is also shooting 56% from three. Azubuike is Kansas’ rebounding force. He ranks 164th in offensive rebounding percentage. He also utilizes his size in the post to make 75.9% of his two-pointers and to rank 138th in block %.


The offseason left Syracuse in an arguably worse position than Kansas. The Orange rank 328th in returning experience. They lost four seniors, all of whom had major experience as starters. Grad transfers Andrew White and the repeatedly clutch John Gillon and Tyler Lydon were Syracuse’s top 3-point shooters and 3 of their best 4 scorers.

Frank Howard, one of Syracuse’s two returning starters, gets another crack at the point guard position. After leading Syracuse to an 8-6 record, he had lost the position to Gillon. Howard and the Orange have benefitted from playing mostly soft opponents at home.

Shooting guard Tyus Battle is the team’s other returning starter. The sophomore produced double figures in Syracuse’s last 7 games last season. His size allows him to drive powerfully towards the basket, but he can also shoot threes. He leads the team with 19.7 points per game.

Oshae Brissett, a 6-8 Canadian, and Marek Dolezaj, a 6-9 Slovakian, are freshmen forwards who lead the team in rebounds. Center Paschal Chukwu contributes mostly on defense with 3 blocks per game.

The Verdict

Kansas can exploit Syracuse’s weaknesses on both sides of the ball on our NCAAB Picks. Syracuse’s zone defense makes it vulnerable to reliable shooters. Syracuse's defense ranks 291st in 3PA/FGA (three-point attempts per field goal attempts) and allow 38.1% of their points from three, the 28th highest proportion. Kansas’ offense, behind Newman, Vick and Mykhailiuk, ranks 8th in 3-point % and accrues 37% of its points from three.

The Orange rely overwhelmingly on scoring inside the arc, ranking 5th in 61% of their scoring coming from two. So although Kansas typically does a relatively poor job of defending the perimeter, that won’t hurt them against Syracuse, who ranks 305th in 3-point shooting %. Kansas ranks 9th in opposing 2-point %.

Battle will get his lion’s share of points but Howard is an unproven point guard. Syracuse’s big men lack experience and are largely known for their defensive abilities. Syracuse will struggle to score, while Kansas can blast Syracuse from behind the arc.

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